Friday, 29 April 2016

ghost alley

When I posted Art Promenade last month, I did so partly because I found the idea of decorating footpaths with painted images interesting, and partly because I thought the practice unusual. However, it turns out that this practice is not as unusual as I had first thought.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been exploring an area northeast of my house that was, until the beginning of the year, part of the so-called ‘closed area’, meaning that it was off-limits to casual visitors like myself. And in the course of my attempts to establish a contiguous cycling route through the area, I ventured down the usual quota of tracks and footpaths that turned out to be dead ends.

One such venture took me down a narrow path to a point where several paths converged to form an extensive flat area, and to my surprise I found that the ground was covered in painted images:

Behind me—I would never have noticed if I hadn’t stopped—there was a house that had been painted in a brash, colourful style (the decoration extends around the corner on both sides):

The next photo shows the house on the right in more detail. If you look closely at the insects that have been painted here, you will see that they are cartoonish rather than realistic in style. In fact, I suspect that whoever painted this drew their inspiration from a children’s book rather than from nature, because there are no ladybirds in Hong Kong.

Also in this area is a disused well, which has been extensively decorated. It appears that each segment has been painted by a different artist, and it seems likely that this entire display of public art is the result of a group project rather than the work of a single artist.

Leading away from the area I’ve just described is an obvious path that disappears into the distance, and this is also extensively decorated with painted images. The first photo is a general view of the path, while the second is a close-up of one such image.

Finally, just before the path reaches Ping Yuen Road, it passes alongside a wall that features my favourite images here. I took the first photo, which provides a view along the entire wall, on my first visit here, while the second photo was taken on a subsequent visit when travelling in the opposite direction. It provides a more detailed look at some of the images.

You may be wondering about the reference to ghosts in the title of this post, especially as it does not appear to have been the anonymous artist’s intention to paint ghosts, but in my book disembodied faces are ghosts. There is certainly an ethereal element to these images. Finally, decorating the environment in this way may be more widespread than you might expect—I came across another path, nearby, where similar but faded images had been painted on the ground—but I certainly think that the artwork here knocks the artwork featured in Art Promenade into a cocked hat.

However, while I know who is responsible for the artwork featured in Art Promenade, there are few clues as to who actually painted the images featured here, although I don’t think they live in the area.

important updates
Ghost Alley Revisited
More from Ghost Alley
Latest News from Ghost Alley
Latest News from Ghost Alley #2
Latest News from Ghost Alley #3

Ghost alley is a work in progress.


  1. Where exactly is this?

    We live in the fanling area and would like to see this.

  2. Where exactly is this? I live in the area and would like to take a look.

    1. If you follow Ping Yuen Road for 200–300 metres from its junction with Ping Che Road, you will see a narrow alleyway next to a store on the left. This is shown in the second photograph in The Final Frontier, although since that photo was taken, the artists have marked this entrance with painted white dots, making it much easier to identify.


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